Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Facts About Sun Exposure

With summer in full swing and the sun beating down we wanted send out a quick reminder of the implications of playing the sports we love outdoors in full exposure to the sun.

Since most golf courses are not inside and do not have sufficient tree cover to completely block out rays from the sun, sun exposure is a fact of life for many golfers, who can spend as many as 5 or 6 hours in the sun during the course of a typical day of golf. As a result, they should take action to reduce their exposure to the sun by wearing sunscreen, caps and sunglasses.

While the sun's rays can be damaging, sun also is a necessary part of life. The sun is the primary source of most people's vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium to build and maintain strong, healthy bones. However, just a few minutes in the sun gives people as much sun exposure as they need.

The three ultraviolet rays that sunlight contains are UVA, UVB and UVC. The most common are UVA rays, which cause skin to age and wrinkle and contribute to skin cancer. UVA rays cause the skin to tan and become darker, but such tans do not protect you from the sun. UVB rays are the second type of ultraviolet light, and while most are captured by the ozone layer, they can cause eye damage, sunburn and damage to the immune system. UVC rays would be even more dangerous than the other two types, but they do not reach the earth.

In the northern hemisphere, the sun's rays are strongest from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which is when the sun is at its highest point in the sky. As a result, it is during this time that there is the most potential for damage from the sun. It is important to remember, too, that cool weather, wind and clouds do not reduce sun exposure. While the ambient climate may be more comfortable, UV rays travel through the clouds and can cause skin damage.

While the skin is often the first indication of sun exposure--through burning or blistering, for example--ultraviolet rays also can be hard on the eyes. One main problem is cataracts, which cause cloudy vision because of a loss of eye lens transparency. While surgery can cure cataracts, many people deal with the diminished vision before getting it done. When cataracts are not treated, they can result in blindness. The sun also can cause skin cancer around the eyes and hurt the macula of the eye.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed annually. One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, as stated in the Journal of the American Medical Association, but unofficial projections for golfers are much worse.

Simply put, if you aren’t taking care of your skin on the course, you likely will pay the price.

“Everybody needs to be smart,” said David Donatucci, the PGA’s director of fitness and performance. “As a golfer, you’re out in the sun for five hours. You need sunscreen. You need to reapply sunscreen. You need to drink water. You need to eat a little something. All these things need to become habits, and that’s the message we are spreading.”


Recommendation:
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